'Huge' Newcastle United star has left Eddie Howe frustrated in training after missing last five games

Sandro Tonali: Newcastle United head coach Eddie Howe has provided a small update on the £52million midfielder following his 10-month betting ban.
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Eddie Howe has backed Sandro Tonali to be a 'huge' player for Newcastle United after serving his 10-month betting ban.

Tonali's first season at Newcastle was brought to a premature end as he was found guilty of breaching Italian betting regulations.

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The 23-year-old has missed United's last five matches following his ban and won't be eligible to feature again until August 2024.

Despite his ban, Tonali is able to train with the Newcastle squad. Which has made his unavailability all the more frustrating for Howe amid an injury crisis.

"Sandro has been training very well, which makes it even more frustrating for us that we can't use him, especially in this moment when we really need him," Howe admitted. "He's a player training, he's fit and he's looked really good.

"Despite the obvious frustration for me, I'm very pleased that he's training at that level and that's a hallmark of his character because it's very difficult when you've got such a long period out to keep your focus day-to-day and do your job as well as you can and he's certainly done that."

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Since his £52million arrival from AC Milan in the summer, Tonali has featured 12 times for Newcastle in all competitions - scoring on his debut against Aston Villa on the opening day of the season.

Although the Italian has been away from competitive action for the past month, he has continued to make progress on the training ground. Tonali is currently one of nine players ruled out for Saturday's Premier League match against Chelsea (3pm kick-off) while a few others are doubtful.

"So far, he's coping very well with his situation in the fact that he's doing extra work," Howe added. "He's trying to improve himself despite the fact he can't play for such a long time. You wouldn't know from our training sessions that he's unavailable to play and it's probably been the best we have seen him in training.

That's natural because he's getting used to his surroundings and he's comfortable now. I'd love to see him when he comes back into the team because I think he will be a huge player for us."